I grew up in the nutritional era where fat was seen as the enemy against our waistlines and health. Every food came out with a “New! Fat-Free” version of their product. Our kitchen was loaded with fat-free cheese, yogurt, crackers, even cookies. Those cookies were awful, but they were now “better” for us because they were fat free. It seems this is not the nutritional trend of this era.
While it’s confusing to hear at times, fat is no longer our enemy. In fact, those poor guys can come out of hiding and proclaim that they were actually healthy for us all along. So healthy in fact that research is telling us that in order to make our healthy salads even healthier, we need to put fat on them in order to absorb the nutrition of the salad.
Wow, really? Put fat on your salad? Can this be right?
Researchers at Purdue University have concluded that the nutritional benefits from salads are greater when mixed with a full-fat dressing versus a low-fat dressing. This is due to the findings that the fat allows for more intestinal absorption. Furthermore, The Molecular Nutrition & Food Research journal published that dressings made with the specific fat found in oils like olive oil and canola oil (monounsaturated fat) required the least amount of fat to get the most absorption, dressings made from saturated fat or polyunsaturated fat required higher amounts to get the same results.
Mary Hartley, RD, our resident dietitian, agreed with the study and highly recommended consumers avoid buying pre-made dressing in order to get the highest health benefits.
“It’s best to learn how to make a simple salad dressing because bottled dressings may not be high in monounsaturated fat and may contain additives, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, colorings, thickeners, emulsifiers, and preservatives.”
Additionally, Hartley believes olive oil to be the best topping for our salads.
“Olive oil is very high in monounsaturated fat and so the healthiest salad dressings are olive oil-based with added vinegar or citrus juices and herbs, spices, and sometimes yogurt or buttermilk, chopped hard boiled egg, capers, seeds, fruit purees, or other natural ingredients added depending on the recipe.”
It’s hard to imagine all the nutrition lost during the “fat-free” era. Granted, there are lots of bad fats and people do need to pay attention to ingredients and serving sizes. However, our bodies need the good fat in order to be truly healthy. This summer, make sure you’re really doing your body good by adding some fat to your salad.